Campbell River City Council will recommend the province approve the transfer of a liquor license from the old Voodoo Lounge location on Ironwood Street to the old Acklands Granger building in Campbellton – on a few conditions.
The contentious license transfer first came to light when neighbouring residents of the proposed new location began circulating a petition in opposition to the move, saying their neighbourhood was finally a place they were comfortable raising a family since the old Quinsam Hotel burned down.
But the proponent of the move said the people speaking out in opposition to the plan were misunderstanding what the proposal was. They had no intention, according to Ken McEachnie – who will manage the venue – of opening a night club, as it was being portrayed, but instead, likened the facility more to the Tidemark Theatre or Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay than to the old Voodoo Lounge or Quinnie.
The licence the proponent was looking to transfer, however, would allow them to open whatever kind of “liquor primary” establishment they wanted to should it be approved, however, and the neighbours – along with city councillors – were concerned that the license itself didn’t match up with what McEachnie was proposing would be the actual business.
So council asked city staff to prepare a report outlining the concerns of the public, as well as what could be done to mitigate them.
That staff report came back before council this week, recommending the city decline giving its approval to the provincial body that would grant the transfer.
“Though the applicant has revised the operational hours of the establishment and has noted that the use of the facility from Sunday to Wednesday will be for rentals,” the report reads, “the applicant could choose to use the liquor primary license in any manner they wish. Given these concerns, it is believed that the current location of the existing Liquor Primary License, at 1140 Ironwood Road, is a more appropriate location given the lack of surrounding residential uses in the area.”
But only Coun. Claire Moglove agreed with city staff.
The rest of council, instead, decided the city should recommend the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) approves the transfer, but only under nine conditions.
These conditions include the hiring of an independent sound consultant to provide the city with a report confirming the operation won’t contravene the city’s noise bylaws and an agreement be entered into stating the city can suspend or revoke the business license of the facility should it fail to comply with the noise regulations.
The city is also requiring that the proponent install a fence and landscaping between the building, its parking areas and the neighbouring residences, retain the services of a security firm from one hour before the facility opens until one hour after it closes to monitor the outside of the facility.
This could all be a moot point, however, as the license has now been dormant for more than two years.
According to the LCRB, “If the establishment does not reopen by the end of the two years, the licence must be cancelled, unless you have demonstrated to LCRB that you are eligible for extended dormancy,” adding, “you can apply to relocate a dormant licence … [but] The dormancy period will not be extended to accommodate your relocation application and timelines related to the relocation.”
So while the city has given its approval for the license transfer – provided the proponent agrees to the conditions it has placed on providing its approval – it will ultimately be up to the LCRB to determine whether Campbell River will have another liquor-serving entertainment venue in the near future.